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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Years of domestic violence allegations prompt personal injury lawsuit against Mark Rypien

Mark Rypien, pictured at left during Super Bowl XXVI in 1992, has been sued by his longtime domestic partner alleging physical and emotional abuse over a period of 12 years. Rypien has admitted to violence in the past, and says he believes he suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy caused by repeated head trauma while playing football.  (Associated Press)

The longtime partner of NFL quarterback Mark Rypien has filed a personal injury lawsuit against him seeking damages for years of physical and emotional abuse.

Danielle Wade filed the lawsuit under her maiden name earlier this month in Spokane County Superior Court. Though the two never married, Wade had taken Rypien’s last name and the couple had spoken publicly about violence in their home, believed to be a consequence of head trauma Rypien experienced during a 16-year NFL career after playing at Washington State University.

The lawsuit contains new allegations of violence – beginning as early as 2008 and lasting until September 2020 – that included Rypien striking Wade with his car and shoving her in their home, injuring her head and hip multiple times.

Mary Schultz, the attorney representing Wade, said the lawsuit acknowledged Rypien’s diagnosis of traumatic brain injury.

“That does not give him license to assault his wife,” Schultz said.

Rypien released a statement through his attorney Sunday afternoon in response to the allegations in the lawsuit.

“Mr. Rypien categorically and unequivocally condemns domestic violence,” the statement reads. “He had a relationship with Danielle Wade that ended recently.

“During this relationship, Mr. Rypien acknowledged and apologized for actions that were harmful to Ms. Wade for which he is truly sorry,” the statement continues. “He has full faith in the judicial system and hopes the parties can reach a just resolution so that they can move forward living their separate lives.”

Rypien has admitted to violent acts in the past against Wade. In at least one of those instances, Rypien said the violence was a result of an altercation, not his brain injury, in a joint statement released by both he and Wade.

In June 2019, Rypien was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence during an incident at a north Spokane intersection. Rypien told the arresting officer that he had punched Wade after she’d covered his eyes while driving.

A judge later dismissed the domestic violence charge against Rypien .

The lawsuit alleges the incident showed the degree to which Wade felt trapped to serve as a “caregiver” for Rypien, including insisting that he not go to jail because of the damage it might do to the foundation bearing his name that was founded to fight childhood cancer.

“These spouses, these partners, are there year after year, because they have empathy, and because they have spousal loyalty,” Schultz said.

The abuse allegedly continued after the dismissal of the charges, including an incident where Rypien shoved Wade into a car door for “saying too much” during the February 2020 premiere at the Garland Theater of a documentary related to chronic traumatic encephalopathy featuring Rypien.

Wade attempted “to confidentially dissolve her legal status” with Rypien following an alleged assault in the home in May 2020. The couple sold their home that September. Wade alleges Rypien threatened her when she attempted to seek legal counsel.

The Rypien family also released a statement Sunday evening.

“We empathize with those suffering from mental illness and our thoughts and prayers are with Ms. Wade as she moves forward,” the statement reads. “Although we question Ms. Wade’s recollection and assertions in her claim, we recognize the seriousness of any accusation of domestic violence perpetrated against women or men. As a family, we are prepared to ensure a holistic review of the facts in the appropriate forum.”

Schultz said the personal injury lawsuit was filed to seek compensation for continuing acts of domestic violence. Washington state law requires actions for assault or false imprisonment to be taken within two years, a time frame Schultz said does not account for the dependent nature of a domestic partnership or marriage.

Other states, including Minnesota, have extended that statute of limitations to six years.

The lawsuit has been assigned to Spokane Superior Court Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren. No hearing dates have been scheduled.